Do You Have A Weak Core? Let's See...

  • Does your trainer keep telling you to sit as you turn and you can’t seem to find a way to sit harder? 
  • Do you get left behind in the turn?
  • Do you get thrown off balance during your turn?
  • Do you pop out of the saddle or look like you’re standing during the turn when you review the run photos? 
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Hip Pain

If any of the above, your core may not be as strong as you need and you may be relying too heavily on your legs to do the work.

Why Is Core Strength Important?

Engaging your core locks in your balance and helps free up your legs so you can give your horse leg cues if needed.

A strong core is the center of all your balance and strength. There is a difference between being tight or stiff and being engaged. In riding, you don’t want to be stiff, but you don’t want to be so loose you get left behind. Ragdolls don’t make accomplished riders, ask any bronc rider.

Do you experience lower back pain or have hip issues? A strong core can eliminate lower back issues and prevent future soreness.   

Core Strength is vital for optimum efficiany, stability, power, and injury mitigation.
-DR. James Larson

When to engage your core while riding?

For Barrel Racers, when you sit for a turn and around the barrel, your core needs to be engaged. During a race, changes in direction can happen in a fraction of a second and you need to be able to redirect your horse if needed without throwing off your balance.

“A strong, stable core provides stability and can generate far more power than your extremities could ever hope to.” -Dr. Jame Larson (Larson Sports & Orthopedics)  

Quick Video Intro

I brought on a special guest for this short demonstration. She was a Junior Olympian, UT Cheerleader, Men’s & Women’s Gymnastics coach, and instructor for Cheer Coaches across the state of TX.

What does a gymnast have to do with horse riding?! Gymnasts are masters at building core strength and overall body fitness and coordination. They have to have strong bodies and strong minds or their tricks don’t work.

As riders, we may not need to be as physically fit but our coordination and balance need to be just as sharp if we want to ride high-caliber horses. 

I’ll let you in on a little secret, this guest is also my mom. I drug her to all of the rodeos, races, and clinics that I taught at and the biggest thing she noticed from riders is their lack of core strength and coordination.

This video shows one of the drills we would demonstrate during clinics to help riders visually understand the difference between a strong core vs. just having strong legs. 

I have also included 2 core exercises you can easily do at home to build your strength.

Core Drills

Drill Breakdown

What you will need: 

  • Another person to help hold your legs up. Or a sturdy coffee table.
    • If your core is engaged it will be lifted off the ground and the person holding your legs will not be able to pull your legs apart. Your whole body will move as one instead of just the legs moving up and down.

Drills Demonstrated: 

  • The Rocker: Good to build a “Hollow Hold” and inner core
    • 15 reps 3 sets, scale as needed
  • The Plank: Hold slightly above your shoulders, do not have your booty up in the air or slouching like a cobra pose.
    • Hold until you feel like you’re starting to struggle (This is your base time) then add 30 seconds to your hold. Each time, add 30 seconds.
    • You can add hip dips from side to side to challenge yourself.

**Remember to breathe during your workouts! This will actually help you improve your duration of core exercises.

More Info On Athletes & Core Strength

View Full article here on core strength and athletes

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